It's the signature day of the NBA's regular season on Christmas and several NBA title contenders will be in action on the five-game schedule, each on national TV. SBR has you covered with previews and BetOnline NBA odds, with all times Eastern.
Wizards vs. Knicks (+6, 193), Noon
Covered by Matt
It's the 50th game all time on Christmas for the Knicks, the most of any NBA team. And this might be the worst Knicks team to ever play on the holiday. New York lost 118-108 in Toronto on Sunday in its last game for the Knicks' fifth straight loss and 15th in 16 games to fall to 5-25. Only Philly, which is trying to tank, has a worse winning percentage. Amare Stoudemire missed the Raptors game as a maintenance day off but will play vs. Washington. However, guard J.R. Smith likely misses an eighth straight game. The Wizards have lost back-to-back games for the second time all season and have yet to drop three in a row. They won at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 4, 98-83, back before Wizards guard Bradley Beal had made his season debut. Washington has won three straight at the Knicks and four straight overall in the series. Matt expects that continue.
Thunder vs. Spurs (TBA on NBA odds), 2:30 p.m.
Covered by Ross
The Spurs and Thunder met in last season's Western Conference Finals, with San Antonio winning in six games. They were presumed to be the two best teams in the West again but injuries have led to slow starts to both. And it's two big injuries as to why there's no opening line in their first meeting of 2014. Oklahoma City superstar Kevin Durant has missed three straight games with a sprained ankle and the Thunder have dropped the past two. He's questionable for Thursday. So is San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard. He has missed four straight games with a hand injury and the Spurs lost three of them, although they did impressively beat the L.A. Clippers on Monday. Check out Ross' early preview.
Cavaliers vs. Heat (TBA), 5 p.m.
Covered by Ross
This is the marquee game on the schedule, even though the Cavaliers will open as sizable favorites on our NBA odds. Of course it's the return to south Florida for LeBron James. The team will honor him with a video tribute, but will the fans be thankful or hateful? Probably a mix of both. The Cavaliers could be in the dumps for the game because they learned on Wednesday that center Anderson Varejao, a crucial part of the team's defense and rebounding and a buddy of LeBron's, was lost for the season to a torn Achilles' tendon suffered Tuesday. That moves Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup, but the Cavs really lack size now. Miami's Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh surely are motivated to beat LeBron in this one, but Bosh is doubtful to play. He has missed six straight games with a calf injury. The struggling Heat may have hit rock bottom Tuesday in losing at home to Philadelphia. What does Ross think?
Lakers vs. Bulls (-10, 205.5), 8 p.m.
Covered by Jordan
The Lakers always are a staple on Christmas and it appears that Kobe Bryant will play Thursday night in Chicago. He sat out Tuesday's home game against Golden State, yet the Lakers pulled one of the upsets of the season, a fairly dominant 115-105 victory over the team with the NBA's best record. The statistics don't lie: the Lakers have been much, much better this season when Kobe is off the court than when on it and hogging all the shots (and missing most of them). Chicago and Derrick Rose are playing their best basketball of the season. The Bulls have won four straight and seven of eight. Rose had 29 points in Monday's win over Toronto and 25 in Tuesday's win at the Wizards. Might there be a letdown here after beating two Eastern Conference contenders already this week? Jordan answers that.
Warriors vs. Clippers (-3, 216.5), 10:30 p.m.
Covered by Jordan
These two Pacific Division rivals simply don't like each other. The Warriors, who remain without injured center Andrew Bogut, look to avoid only their second two-game losing streak of the season after being shocked at the Lakers on Tuesday. Golden State was flat for three quarters and the Lakers took it to the Warriors. The Clippers are trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season. They lost a high-scoring game Monday in San Antonio and then another Tuesday in Atlanta, the hottest team in the Eastern Conference. The Warriors routed the visiting Clippers by 17 points early in the season, but Los Angeles has won three straight regular-season home games in this series. The teams met on Christmas last year and Golden State won 105-103 at home. Jordan advises whether the Clippers make it as our NBA pick.